What is Somatic Experiencing?

What is Somatic Experiencing?

The Somatic Experiencing ® (SE) method is a body-oriented approach to the healing of trauma and other stress disorders.  It is the life’s work of Dr. Peter A. Levine, drawing from his multidisciplinary study of stress physiology, psychology, ethology, biology, neuroscience, indigenous healing practices, and medical biophysics, together with over 45 years of successful clinical application.

What is it used for?  Is it therapy?

SE is different than psychotherapy (although therapists who have undergone specific training may use it in their work).It’s often used in conjunction with other modalities and across a wide range of types of practice.

Therapists, coaches, educators, bodyworkers, medical professionals, and first responders are examples of professionals who may draw on SE in their work, due to its unique effectiveness at releasing trauma from the body.

How does it work?

SE works by healing the nervous system and releasing old patterns that were formed due to stress and trauma.

When the body goes through more than it can handle, it will often become stuck in unhealthy patterns of chronic fight/ flight or freeze.  In spite of our best efforts at mindfulness, understanding the root issues, and even doing all kinds of healing work, we can find ourselves reverting to the same old habits and responses over and over again.

This is because at a very primitive level, the nervous system has become “fixated” in particular patterns.  When we release the old patterning and stuck places in the nervous system, we open up the body/ mind to greater flexibility, ease, and flow.  We allow it to respond appropriately to stressors and triggers and choose a healthier response – rather than spiraling off into the same old stuck places, rigid responses, or body symptoms.

Read more about how the nervous system works and how trauma affects the body.


What does Somatic Experiencing help?

Healing the nervous system affects the entire body and mind in a positive way.  When we change the underlying patterns, we affect the physiology of the entire system.  Conditions that may benefit range from muscular tension and chronic health issues to stuck emotional patterns of fear or stress that cause “upper limits” responses in your life or work.

I specialize in working with creatives, healers,  and spiritual teachers/ entrepreneurs; as well as with folks who are dealing with chronic muscle tension or healing from long term illness (such as autoimmune conditions or adrenal fatigue).  I help you come home to safety in your body, release the traumatic imprints from the past, and move into more ease, flow, and joy.

What’s a session like?

Exactly what a session looks like will depend on our goals.  We may talk a bit at the beginning, or we may just move straight into “talking” to the nervous system.

As I guide you to connect and center, we begin to observe the patterns currently happening in the body.  I’ll track things like your breath patterns, muscular twitches, the flush or pallor of the skin, and various shifts and cues in the physiology.  I’ll also have you report your internal experience of imagery, sensations, emotions, or possible memories that may arise.  We’ll observe what’s currently playing out on a nervous system level, and then make appropriate shifts to facilitate release where energy is stuck and needs to be shifted, completed, or let go.

Often, following this release, there will be an experience of profound calm or new insight that will spontaneously arise.  However, it’s important that we don’t try  jump too soon to figuring out “what it means”.  I will often be guiding you out of the mind and into the the body’s sensations and experience.  This is important to allow the body’s organic rhythms to fully complete and come back into balance.

Over the next 24-48 hours following your session, I’ll encourage extra rest and self care.  I’ll also encourage you to notice shifts in the body’s experience, and any new insights that result.   When we give the physiology the space and support to come back to balance, often our mind’s understanding and the meanings we’ve been creating will shift into a brand new space as well.  Higher perspectives and deeper understanding of the issues we’ve been stuck on are able to emerge and integrate into our experience, along with greater ease and energy flow in the body.

You can read about my own journey and how I got into this work here. 

If you have questions about whether this is a fit for you, feel free to contact me.